The broad question I have... do f-holes make any difference in electrics, or is it purely aesthetics? Then aesthetically, would purfling and f-holes be too busy? Decisions, decisions... open to any and all
useful input. Thanks!
Having made one with f-holes, I am firmly in the been-there-done-that club.
I don't think f-holes are going to make any noticeable sound difference in your build.
What kind of treatment for the f-holes? Binding or none?
I'll give you my opinion, but you know what they say about opinions. F-holes or some variation looks correct on guitar based on classical Gibsons and other traditional designs. They look wrong on Fender. It looks even sillier with one f-hole on one side and not on the other. OK, now I'll put on my fire proof underwear and get ready for the flame throwers.
Saying that, I put them on guitar that are based on traditional designs - ES175 and 335 and L5's and F5 mandolins. When I built my personal tele I chambered it much as you have done, but I left the silly f-hole off. I think it looks much better and it sounds fine.
Some things to remember, however. F-holes make the guitar more prone to feedback, which is why BB had them left off of his Lucilles. If you don't put them in your semi you will need to provide an access hole for the electronics. However it is also a total PITA to fish electronics thru f-holes, I build them in during construction. If you are making your top close to acoustic thickness you should consider reinforcing the holes - they often split at the sharp points. They are a hassle to bind, but look elegant when they are. In a true acoustic instrument they are critical to the air chamber sound and need to be tuned as part of voicing the top, not an issue for you. They can be used to show off your design ideas - look at all the cool archtops - but some of them just look dumb.
That said, I would leave them off of any fender inspired guitar. YMMV
Ps - I did a little write up on installing binding and purfling, let me know if you would like the link.
when you play a guitar with an f-hole at high volume, at that perfect spot just before feedback, it is an organic experience, the top vibrates and pushes air through the f-hole, you feel that against the inside of your forearm, and the guitar becomes a living breathing thing
I'm squarely in the almost always F-hole camp. Of course I tend to be partial to Thinline Teles, all else being equal. I don't think they belong on every type of Tele or Fender shape, but on a traditional Thinline or '70s HH Thinline, I say they complete the look. So if you're putting a pickguard on it or anything, yes. F-hole. No pickguard, then forego it.
all great input - thank you.
I’ll be adding electronics routs before glue up. I’m also planning on removing more to make it more-semi-hollow. Maybe. Last one I did, I forgot the electronics routs and had to drill them with the footlong bit, which I despise.
And yes please, I’d love the link to the binding/purfling!